23 Feb 2009

Canberra warned it cannot ignore Papua issue in talks with Jakarta

4:21 pm on 23 February 2009

An Australian activist says his government is going the wrong way about improving relations with Indonesia if it continues to ignore the West Papua issue.

This follows last week's conference in Sydney on Bilateral Relations called "Australia and Indonesia: Partners in a New Era".

Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association says there has been a large number of bilateral visits since the Rudd government came to power in Australia and yet there's been little apparent discussion of Papua.

He says the policies of Indonesia's Government, compounded by the actions of the Indonesian security forces in West Papua, could lead to the very instability the Australian Government is trying to avoid.

"If we really want to improve the relationship with Indonesia, we should be actually talking and discussing the issues in West Papua, the human rights situation. it's only by talking about it, that we will come to resolve the problems of concern in the territory. By ignoring it, it's only putting it on the backburner and one day will explode and probably destroy the good relationship we try to have with Indonesia."

Joe Collins